Progressive Christian Channel
The Adventurous Seminary: Holistic, Relational, and Innovative
Seminary professors need to be interdisciplinary in attitude and training. Study outside their academic field is no longer optional for faculty; it is a necessity for responsible scholarship and teaching. This may require seminaries to transform and overhaul their approaches to teaching the traditional academic disciplines. Indeed, the boundaries of disciplines must be blurred and expanded in order to be relevant to a dynamic world. Seminaries are not primarily archivists of past theological achievements; they are adventurers in the integration of ancient, future, and present. They must continually join theory and practice, and concrete and abstract. In the spirit of Whitehead's metaphor of the airplane flight, seminary education, at its best, begins with concrete experiences of ministerial call and congregational life, soars upward in quest of larger perspectives, and then returns to the concrete to test theological reflection, only to continue the adventure with further syntheses of theory and practice.
Seminaries need to be prudent risk-takers, constantly looking for creative and revenue positive partnerships and exploring new ways of approaching their vocation as the mind of the church. The old time religion may have been good enough for grandma or grandpa, but seminaries must apply spiritual and theological CPR to traditional ideas for these ideas to live again. Once it was said that pastors need to have the New York Times in one hand and the Bible in the other. Today, we must supplement the New York Times with the Huffington Post, Patheos, various online resources, as well as cable news to be relevant and innovative. Like the prophets of old, today's seminaries need to cultivate a "fluid eschatology," looking toward the horizons of the future in their embrace of emerging possibilities for congregational, educational, and spiritual transformation. This is the calling of adventurous seminaries living in partnership with adventurous congregations.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, pastor, and author of twenty one books, including Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed, Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living, and The Center is Everywhere: Celtic Spirituality for the Postmodern Age. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for lectures, workshops, and retreats.